11th November, 2020
Algeria Ambassadorial Roundtable
On 11 November, the Chamber organised an Algeria Ambassadorial Roundtable webinar with H E Abderrahmane Benguerrah, the Algerian Ambassador to the UK, as the keynote speaker, joined by some equally distinguished co-panellists that included the Rt Hon Lord Risby, the British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Algeria.
Lady Olga Maitland, Chairman of the Algeria British Business Council, Mr James Fielder, CEO, HSBC Algeria, and Mr Yassine Bouhara, Vice President of the Algerian Chamber of Commerce in France, took part in the discussion which succeeded in highlighting the many new opportunities opening up in the Algerian market.
Rt Hon Baroness Symons, ABCC Chairman, pointed to the uncertainties posed by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, but remarked that one certainty was that countries will always need to trade with each other.
Mr Bandar Reda, ABCC CEO & Secretary General, welcomed the high powered panel of speakers and pledged the chamber’s support for entrepreneurs, traders and investors.
All speakers agreed on the great potential for closer cooperation between the UK and Algeria.
In a wide ranging presentation, H E Mr Benguerrah stated that his country had embarked on a new course last year with the adoption of a new programme whose key features were amendments to the legal framework for doing business and attracting inward investment.
Algeria, the Ambassador said, was moving towards growth and sustainable development by creating a more diverse economy, making use of its untapped natural resources and unleashing the talents of its well educated population.
The scale of ambition was reflected in the new investment law, the new hydrocarbons law, mining law and changes to the role of the central bank.
Commenting on UK-Algeria relations, H E Mr Benguerrah said that both sides viewed their partnership as vitally important but much more could be done to increase the level of bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
The Ambassador said that British firms with their expertise were welcomed in Algeria and 150 UK firms were already operating successfully in the market across various sectors.
He concluded by encouraging more British businesses to take a closer look at what Algeria had to offer and the advantages of its strategic location, modern infrastructure and incentives for investors.
Lord Risby reiterated the positive message and remarked on the long history of friendly relations between the two countries.
He was encouraged by the country’s determination to diversify its economy and highlighted recent successes in bilateral cooperation such as the opening of the first privately run English school in Algeria.
Priority sectors in the country’s diversification strategy include: Agriculture, Renewable Energy, Pharmaceuticals, Digital, Mining, Financial and Professional Services.
“All these sectors open up the potential for exciting new opportunities for UK companies which are able to offer Algeria complementary technology, investment, experience and expertise, delivering mutual gain”, the UK Trade Envoy stated.
Lord Risby urged more UK firms to become part of Algeria’s development by taking advantage of the current opening up of its economy and the new incentives available for investors.
Prospective investors were reminded of the support from UK Export Finance (UKEF) which has at its disposal a budget of £4 billion capacity to assist UK businesses with overseas partners in any sector in Algeria, he explained.
Lady Olga Maitland spoke of the positive changes that were taking place in Algeria and the increasing number of UK firms that were looking to do business there.
She described Algeria as an “incredible market” with its young, educated population, excellent infrastructure, strategic location and strategic vision that was now driving the country forward.
Lady Olga said that a great deal of practical support was available to potential investors seeking to enter the market and urged companies to make use of this advice.
Mr James Fielder, CEO, HSBC Algeria, explained the financial services that his bank had been providing to foreign companies operating in Algeria since HSBC became established in the market over 12 years ago.
He said that Algeria’s new policies in were bringing about significant changes and making the most of the country’s natural advantages in location and resources.
Mr Fielder remarked on the opportunities in the largely undeveloped tourism sector with its assets such as the rich heritage, landscape, Mediterranean coastline and historic sites.
Mr Yassine Bouhara, Vice President of the Algerian Chamber of Commerce in France, gave additional details of the investor incentives such as exemptions on VAT, customs dues, low rental costs and skilled workforce.
He described Algeria as a true land of opportunity and advised investors to contact the National Agency of Investment Development (ANDI), where they would receive all the support they required.
Major opportunities could be found in mineral resource exploration, green energy and the fishing industry, among others, Mr Bouhara stated.
Algeria was currently undergoing a major transformation and UK firms were encouraged to become part of it and add to its increasing number of success stories.
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